dirt road

Road Maintenance

Maintaining your gravel camp road or driveway, is one of the best ways you can help protect the watershed. Pollution from storm water run off is one of the most significant problems contributing to a decline in water quality, and soil erosion is the number one pollutant (by volume) to surface waters, and contributes significantly to erosion and sedimentation of lake watersheds. Proper camp road maintenance can save you costly yearly repairs, reduce vehicle damage, and is a fantastic way to be a great steward of the watershed. That’s a win, win, win.

How do you know if your camp road is negatively impacting the watershed?

green tree beside roadway during daytime
  • Standing water on road during or after storms
  • Repeated washouts in the same area of road
  • Gravel or fill needed on a yearly basis
  • Wash boarding, pot holes, tire ruts
  • Culverts that overflow, fill with debris, or erode

All of the road problems above and more are symptoms of poor road construction or poor road maintenance.  These problems lead to an excess of water caused erosion that directly impacts the streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.

How does road erosion negatively affect lakes and streams?

  • Material washed out of roadways increase sediment loading in fresh water
  • Sediments carry large amounts of phosphorous into freshwater
  • Excess phosphorous stimulates plant growth and leads to algae blooms that can be harmful to humans and animals
  • Decaying algae blooms reduce the oxygen in the water
  • Suspended sediments in the water are harmful to the gills of fish
  • Soil particles suspended in the water can smother spawning and feeding grounds for fish
  • Increased sediments can lead to loss of desirable shoreline

No cost steps you can take now to improve your gravel road or driveway

• Check culverts to ensure they are not blocked by debris
• Don’t follow the same driving pattern when it is safe do so
• Walk your road in the rain to note any spots that have standing or rushing water
• Address potholes when they first appear, catching them early will save you a lot of time, energy and expense
• Learn more about your roads construction so you can make informed decisions

Resources for Proper Gravel Road Maintenance

A Ditch in Time: An owners Manual for those who live and travel on dirt or gravel roads by Russ Lanoie

This exceptional resource is written by Russ Lanoie, the leading expert on gravel and dirt road maintenance in NH and inventor of the Front Runner, a dirt road grading tool that is now used all over the country. This short book is the place to start for gaining a thorough understanding of dirt and gravel roads, and a comprehensive look at overall maintenance. This book includes a trouble shooting guide and a quick tips section for low/no cost things you can do right away to improve your gravel road.

Gravel Road Maintenance Manual: A guide for land owners on Camp and Other Gravel Roads

Published by the Kennebec Soil and Water Conservation District and the Maine Department of Environmental protection Bureaus of Land Resources and Water Quality

This manual is a great resource for gaining a thorough understanding of the proper construction and maintenance of your gravel road or drive. It features a helpful troubleshooting guide and illustrations of everything from proper road soil composition to vegetated buffers.

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